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Outdoors notebook: A 2nd elk tag will be available each fall

| Sunday, July 13, 2014, 8:39 p.m.

Hunters with money to spend will be able to bid on two special Pennsylvania elk tags this fall, rather than one.

House Bill 2169, which reauthorizes the special elk conservation tag program, passed through the state legislature and was signed into law by Gov. Tom Corbett on Wednesday. It calls for two special bull elk tags to be available each fall.

One, as has been the case for the past five years, will be auctioned off by a sportsmen's organization chosen by the Pennsylvania Game Commission. Safari Club International, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and National Wild Turkey Federation, among others, previously have auctioned the tag to the highest bidder. The license has at times sold for more than $20,000.

The money gets split between the auctioning group and the commission, which uses its share to improve the elk range.

The second, new tag will go to the Keystone Elk County Alliance, the non-profit group that runs the Elk Country Visitor Center. The law does not specify exactly how the tag must be raffled, said Allegheny County Rep. Marc Gergely, one of the bill's two prime sponsors.

Cameras allowed?

Another piece of legislation is making its way through the system. This one is prompted by the death of a wildlife conservation officer.

The House of Representatives passed House Bill 2178, which would allow wildlife and waterways conservation officers to carry body cameras in the field. Rep. Dan Moul of Adams County sponsored the bill after the death of Game Commission officer David Grove. The bill is in the Senate. Grove was killed in 2010, when he was shot by a convicted felon while investigating a poaching incident.

According to Game Commission executive director Matt Hough, body cameras are similar to the dashboard cameras installed in most law-enforcement vehicles, but can be clipped onto a conservation officer's uniform, making them better for foot patrols. He said the “mere presence of cameras can quickly defuse what might otherwise become hostile situations.”

Dead cub found

Evidence of nature's sometimes harsh treatment of wildlife turned up this past spring.

Jason Farabaugh, a wildlife conservation officer in Fayette and Westmoreland counties for the Game Commission, said a turkey hunter found a 4-pound bear cub dead in the Casparis area of state game land 51.

“The bear had no external injuries. It appeared to have suffered a head injury after falling from a tree onto a large rock below,” Farabaugh said.

Stockings report

The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission stocked a number of area waters with walleye fingerlings recently.

Yough Dam in Fayette and Somerset counties got 113,600 fish, while Glendale Lake in Cambria County got 48,000, Yellow Creek Lake in Indiana County 21,600 and Keystone Lake in Armstrong County got 19,000. In Somerset County, Quemahoning Dam got 18,000, High Point Lake 13,550 and Lake Somerset 12,650. Fayette County's Greenlick Lake got 10,000.

Outreach effort

Evidence of how America is changing can be found in a new Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation outreach campaign.

The foundation recently launched a five-year effort to increase awareness of fishing and boating among Hispanics, the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population.

A Spanish-language microsite, VamosAPescar.org, and targeted advertising represent the first phase of the campaign.

Bob Frye is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at bfrye@tribweb.com or via Twitter @bobfryeoutdoors.

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